School canteens in the UAE fighting obesity

Dubai: It’s no secret that the UAE has an obesity problem — especially among children. In 2013, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) found that one in every three children in the UAE was obese.

In 2014, another Unicef study, which surveyed 5,000 scholchildren from the UAE, found that 68 per cent of them did not exercise or exercised for less than an hour a day. Like maths, English or science, healthy eating is something that should be taught at a young age at school and home.

Following such studies educational and health authorities have taken strict measures to ensure that healthy eating is practised among schoolchildren.

In 2014, the Ministry of Education formed a specialist team to monitor school canteens and make sure they are providing healthy options at reasonable prices, while the Dubai Health Authority made it mandatory for all schools providing meals to pupils to follow healthy nutritional guidelines to avoid penalties.

Such findings have also opened the eyes of schools and parents about importance of healthy eating in school.